Wash Your Hands Properly: Water First

Many people put a squirt of soap in their hands first. But that’s not the first step. Reduce the spread of infection – especially during flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic – and follow these easy handwashing steps.

  • Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  • Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end, twice.
  • Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol. Remember to:

  • Apply gel product to the palm of one hand (read label to learn correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub gel over all the surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Learn more about handwashing.

Find more tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on when and how to wash your hands.

Spanish: Cuándo y cómo lavarse las manos
French: Quand et comment se laver les mains

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